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UPenn's TitanArm exoskeleton prototype makes light work of heavy lifting (video)

Jamie Rigg, @jmerigg
May 1, 2013
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It's no wonder people are interested in exoskeletons. Not only do they tap into our lust for the technology of science fiction movies, but among other applications, can make a significant impact on the lives of those living with disabilities. While many offer leg support, a team from University of Pennsylvania recently took silver in an engineering competition for its TitanArm prototype, a powered upper-body exoskeleton that, as the picture above shows, allows you to out-rep anyone at the gym.

Designed to be lightweight and cheap to produce, the robotic bicep upgrade uses a (mostly) aluminum frame, battery-powered DC motor, cable drive system, racket braking and thumbstick controller for movement, with a BeagleBone board supervising the electronics that pull it all together. The group at UPenn imagines TitanArm could be employed as a lifting aid, but more importantly, in healthcare applications like increasing mobility or physical therapy -- sensors and other data from the exoskeleton could even allow docs to monitor patients remotely. More info on the project can be found at the source link, while a video below shows TitanArm in use and outlines the hardware that makes those heavy hammer curls a cinch.

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